• CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
An ordinance promoting breastfeeding and requiring the establishment of lactation stations in all health and non-health institutions/establishments in the City of Bacolod, was passed by the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod on first reading recently.
Authored by Councilor Claudio Puentevella, the ordinance said the use of breast milk which is widely recognized as the best source of nutrition for babies, promotes the development of emotional bonding between the mother and the child, bestows upon the new born infant protection against infection, provides the mother’s natural contraception after delivery, and protects the mother from closely escaped emergency.
To be known as “Breastfeeding Ordinance in the City of Bacolod,” the measure provides that nursing employees will be granted break intervals in addition to the regular time off meals to breastfeed or express milk. These intervals, which will include the time it takes an employee to get to and from the workplace to the lactation station, will be counted as compensable hours worked. The DOLE may adjust the same, provided, that such intervals will not be less than a total of 40 minutes for every eight – hour working period, it said.
To raise awareness on the importance of and to further promote breastfeeding, the month of August of every year will be known as “Breastfeeding Awareness Month” in the City of Bacolod, the ordinance said.
The City Health Office will be principally responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this ordinance, it added.
The ordinance provides that any health or non-health institution, which unjustifiably refuse or fail to comply with Sections 4 and 5 of the Ordinance, will be imposed a fine of P5 000 and cancellation or revocation of its business permit or licenses to operate.
In all cases, the fine imposed should take into consideration, among others, the number of women employees, physical size of the establishment, and the average number of women who visit. This will be without prejudice to other liabilities applicable under Civil Service rules, it added.*